2017 Miami Dolphins Preview

The Miami Dolphins started off 2016-17 very bad, but ended up being one of the best teams in the NFL towards the end of the season. They snuck into the wild card spot, a 10-6 record, and essentially saved Ryan Tannehill's career as their quarterback. Now, the Dolphins appear to be the closest team to New England in their division, but have they really done enough to compete with the Patriots (and the rest of the AFC) for a conference championship?


The Dolphins started off with DE Charles Harris out of Missouri in round one, LB Raekwon McMillan from Ohio State in round two, and CB Cordrea Tankersley out of Clemson in round three. They also brought in DT Davon Godchaux, S Nate Gerry and DT Vincent Taylor to help improve their defense. In other words, stopping the offense New England has built is the priority in South Florida, and the Dolphins look to have a pretty good one.


From what I can see, the Dolphins didn't go overboard once again in free agency to sign a whole bunch of players who they eventually would cut, but they signed veterans to help in areas of need. They started off keeping G Jermon Bushrod, and also brought in another in Ted Larsen from Chicago. On defense, they brought in veteran LB Lawrence Timmons and safeties TJ McDonald and Nate Allen on relatively team-friendly contracts. Overall, they improved by not overdoing it. They also brought in TE Julius Thomas to help with the passing game.


DT Earl Mitchell was probably the biggest loss Miami took via free agency, so overall it was a pretty good period. TE Dion Sims went to the Bears, but Julius Thomas is an upgrade and they still have Anthony Fasano. DE Mario Williams is a still a free agent, and he could end up being their biggest loss once he decides what he is doing.


Defense is definitely what the strong suit of the Dolphins is, and despite losing Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell, the defensive line is still strong. Including rookie Charles Harris, the Dolphins have four dynamic defensive ends surrounding Ndamukong Suh on the line. The fourth spot is up for grabs somewhat, but the rest of the line is more than above average.


I don't really like the offensive line still, but I'm going with quarterback. That's why this team's chances of success rely so much on Ryan Tannehill. If Tannehill plays at all like a first round pick should, the Dolphins are clearly going to make the playoffs. If not, this team will be around .500.


QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Jay Ajayi, DT Ndamukong Suh, ILB Kiko Alonso, FS TJ McDonald

The Dolphins have a lot of depth and talent on defense, and I just chose the most pivotal factors on it. The outside linebacker spots are up for grabs, so Kiko Alonso is going to have to be the force in the middle. Same with Ndamukong Suh, although he will have a lot of help on the outsides. TJ McDonald is suspended for half the season, and when he returns his presence could make the difference on the defense. Jay Ajayi is the best player on that offense, and is a huge reason for the great second half the Dolphins had. I already explained Tannehill's importance.


This team is interesting, and took an unusual route this off-season. Normally, the Dolphins overpay and spend a ton via free agency, but this year the only large acquisition was Timmons. They had a good draft, brought in depth for the defense, and appear to have a decent offense at worst. Expect the Dolphins to contend with New England until about week 12, when they have two games with New England in two weeks and then they will pull away with the division. I think they will at least contend for a wild card spot, so expect a similar finish.